The Need for Fathers
Jesus Christ demonstrated throughout His earthly ministry that there is a clear line of command in place within the God Family—which our families are to emulate. The family government was very much alive between His Father and Him. He was very clear on who was in charge. He did exactly what the Father asked Him to do.
Coming to better understand fatherhood as God does gives us incredible insight into the way He thinks. God commands us to see this from His perspective, and make this a habitual way of thinking that ingrains this spiritual lesson in our minds.
What makes a dedicated study into this subject so critical is how decidedly different God’s view is from the common view in society. Satan has inspired a general conspiracy against fatherhood. The role of the father is his biggest target in bringing down family life.
It is common to recognize the mother’s role as nurturer, carer and emotional support. She provides the meals, does the housework and in many cases earns a good portion of the family income. But what is Dad supposed to do? In the minds of many, this is far hazier. Maybe he is the provider, although in more and more homes Mom works, and often makes more money than Dad.
In the minds of most people, the God-ordained role for the father in the family has been obscured completely. Society in general paints that leadership position as being unnecessary.
As the first four verses of Isaiah 3 prophesy, God has removed the strong men as a curse on the disobedient nations of modern Israel, which has created a tremendous leadership vacuum. And what has filled the gap? “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them …” (verse 12). Families are upside-down: Women and children are at the top—and the men aren’t even mentioned!
This is a tremendous problem. And families are devastated when that role of the father is neglected. Studies prove that when the father fails, everyone suffers. Why? Because the whole structure of the family falls apart.
God designed human beings—physically, emotionally, spiritually—to need fathers.
One author states this need thus: “If children fail to receive enough love from their fathers, they carry the painful effects for a long time to come—usually for the rest of their lives” (Robert S. McGee, Father Hunger). They experience a variety of problems in their lives “including depression, lack of self-esteem, an inability to express genuine love toward a spouse. But in interviewing these people, one common element keeps coming up in almost every case: an unfulfilled desire, a gnawing deep in their spirits, a continual craving to experience love from their fathers. The longer this need goes unfulfilled, the more the person suffers.”
In the book Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem is this assessment: “There are exceptions, of course, but here is the rule: Boys raised by traditionally masculine fathers do not commit crimes. Fatherless boys commit crimes.” In fact, fatherlessness has been proven to be the number-one factor predisposing someone to criminal activity—more than poverty, iq, race, culture or education.
Girls who lack the strong influence of a father are much more prone to get involved sexually before they should. They are looking for a male to fulfill that need in their life that their father failed to fulfill. “Many studies confirm that girls who grow up without fathers are at much greater risk for early sexual activity, adolescent childbearing, divorce and lack of sexual confidence” (ibid.).
The vast majority of fatherless children are prone to emotional imbalances, motivation problems (especially boys), anger, instability, vulnerability, insecurity and feelings of rejection—a sense of being unloved and unlovable. These same problems tend to crop up where a father is present, but is perhaps abusive, a workaholic, passive and unmasculine, sickly, manipulative or a perfectionist. Sadly, the children of such men can be just as much “fatherless” as those whose father completely abandoned the family, or died!
If you want to know how important the father’s role is, just look at what happens when it is neglected.
God created humans to be born into the God Family. The way He made us, it is absolutely imperative that we have a family, and that we have a father!
As the book Father Hunger brings out, you can compare this to our need for good nutrition. For example, you could completely eliminate vegetables from your diet and substitute chocolate milk instead. While that wouldn’t kill you right away, your health would go bad quickly.
Given the God-designed need for a father, it is interesting how protective God is of two groups of people in particular: the fatherless, and the widows. The Bible contains over 40 references to these two groups! It doesn’t specifically mention the motherless and widowers, but rather those who have been deprived of that male influence of a father and a husband—those for whom that family role isn’t being filled.
One of God’s major condemnations of today’s society is that we neglect the fatherless and widows. “Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge [defend or vindicate] not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isaiah 1:23). God instructs these rebels, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (verses 16-17). This is how to become right with God! These people need help—there is a void that God intended be filled in their lives. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
It is true that, because Satan has worked so hard to attack the role of the father, probably a majority of people have had poor relationships with their fathers. But the inspiring and hope-filled truth is, for those lacking a strong physical father and physical family, God seeks to step in and fill that role—both personally, and through strong males who are practicing the pure religion James spoke of.